Requiem for Heroes

Session Three: Death House
Opulence and Omens

With the rogue recovering from his rough handling (and the rogue's player missing the session), the barbarian and sorcerer needed to approach the menace of the dread lord in the castle on the crag from a different direction. Father Donavich recalled that in the village's past, a jaded family of wealthy grandees who sought to court the Devil Strahd's favor. Donavich confided that things ended poorly for the family, but that their townhouse still stood on the eastern side of the village, and perhaps held some clues as to the vampire's goals or weaknesses.

The (diminished) party sallied forth and found the house, to be surprised by the disturbing pair of children who greeted them at the door. The barbarian, believing the children to be fledgling vampires, swung his vicious axe at them — but they vanished, seemingly apparitions. With that unsettling encounter framing their arrival at the house, they entered… and things slowly got worse.

The lower levels of the house were abandoned but held numerous secrets — and no few valuable treasures. As they made their way upstairs, the party ran afoul of a suit of animated armor that gave them quite a drubbing, but they ultimately prevailed. After a few more unpleasant surprises including a specter and some grisly family history, the duo made their way to the attic, where they found the lair of the unfortunate children. The children were initially cooperative, informing the adventurers of "the monster in the basement," but when the adventurers made to leave, the sorcerer came under the possession of the ghostly daughter. Deciding that returning better prepared and in the company of the rogue was the better course of action, the sorcerer and barbarian repaired to Donavich's church, to pursue the mystery of the monster in the basement at a later date.

Session Two: Barovia in Distress
Priests and Profiteers

Having discovered the morose village of Barovia and the death of its burgomaster, the party performed some reconnaissance of the community. Having agreed to deliver the burgomaster's remains to the church for proper rites and burial, the party ran afoul of a strange hag. Seemingly selling confections door to door, the party witnessed the hag take physical possession of a child from his parents, "to settle a debt," as the hag told it. The party intervened and the hag reluctantly yielded the child to their care — but not before the barbarian claimed one of the confections, which the hag proclaimed eerily as a debt that would come due. Perhaps more disturbingly, she claimed that she sold her goods and settled her debts with the sanction of the lord in the castle on the crag.

The party returned to the burgomaster's estate and left the child Lars in the care of the burgomaster's surviving daughter Ireena Kolyana as they left to bring the corpse to the church. At the church, however, they discovered that the congregation had lost much faith in its sanctuary, and the resident priest, Father Donavich, had a more immediate problem in the form of a screaming maniac confined beneath the building itself. The party could hear the maniac howl his hunger, but the priest was reluctant to tell them much about it or grant them access. Donavich did suggest they make contact with the burgomaster's son Ismark, who could be found at a tavern, and — if they truly sought to right the wrongs of the land — travel to the Abbey of St. Markova, where they would potentially be able to claim a relic that could be used against the devil Strahd.

The party made Ismark's acquaintance at the Blood of the Vine tavern, but a questionable trio of patrons encouraged them to take their leave. In their explorations, they also discovered the merchant Bildrath, whose mercantile seemed to have a monopoly on local sundries, which Bildrath exploited to great personal gain at the expense of the villagers. Things grew heated, and violence erupted. The party was dealt a drubbing by Bildrath's bodyguard Parriwimple, and the session concluded with them retreating to the church in defense. The rogue, having struck a critical blow upon Parriwimple from the shadows of the shop, had been beaten down, and was at death's door….

Session One: Into the Mists
The devil beckons

As they woke to learn that they had unknownly availed themselves of the interloper Arrigal's hospitality, the group was suspicious. In particular, they thought these places that Arrigal spoke of — Barovia and the Svalich Wood — and their problems were outlandish. But it turns out that they were the "outlanders," a term that gave them no love toward Arrigal. The party agreed, however, to accompany Arrigal to visit the burgomaster of Barovia and see what he would ask of them. This only after the barbarian forced Arrigal to let him hold his shirt as collateral, as a display of dominance. Arrigal agreed, and gave to them a letter inviting them at the burgomaster's request to aid him for great reward.

It turns out that Arrigal was — unsurprisingly — not a fellow to be trusted, as he vanished into the mists when the party passed through the gates of the enormous wall isolating Barovia from the forest beyond. Without recourse, the party kept to the road and found the remains of another traveler with a similar letter from the same burgomaster, but one with a much more ominous tone that mentioned a dread vampyr as the source of the woes of Barovia. As they considered what these two letters meant, a monstous dire wolf set upon them. Dispatching the beast, the party observed a raven casting a wary eye upon them.

Approaching the village of Barovia, the party heard mournful cries from one of the townhouses, which was the home of the distraught Mad Mary. With uncharacteristic sympathy, the barbarian consoled Mary and learned of the disappearance of her daughter, whom he vowed to return. Eager to storm the castle overlooking the benighted village, the barbarian was instead cajoled into visiting the burgomaster's home by the rogue and sorcerer…

…who found the mansion burned and its windows shattered. They negotiated their way inside to meet the burgomaster's daughter, who, with her brother's help, had built the coffin that now housed her father.

Session Zero: Storm on the Horizon
Homeward bound?

After an exhausting campaign in the Cairn Hills, the adventurers made their way toward Greyhawk, but an ominous storm gathered in the sky. They discovered a crumbling tower on the purpling horizon, where they took cover, only to find that someone else had made camp their first — but wasn't there when they arrived.

Pilfering the camper's goods, they determined that their fellow traveler was some sort of entertainer. That information seemed less urgent, however, than the sorcerer, exploring the remains of the tower's second story, running afoul of a nest of centipedes. With vermin bites laying them low, the party decided to hunker down for the night, sweat out the poison, and weather the storm.

A gale commenced, and a deluge of heavy raindrops made keeping watch difficult. The savvy rogue, however, discerned movement in the ruins beyond the tower walls. Beset by vengeful skeletons from tombs in the Cairn Hills, the party fought off the undead with trusty axes, arrows, and magic missiles.

They resumed their rest as an unwholesome chill crept in on the heels of the storm. When they rose, it seemed that the original owner of the tent had made his return — and hoped they had appreciated his unwitting hospitality. With the tower ruin campsite enshrouded in the post-storm fog, the stranger made his introduction….

Session zero involved character creation so I've left out a lot of character details, in case the players decide they want to adjust elements of their PCs. This was largely a character-creation session with a few simple encounters to introduce lapsed players who hadn't played in years to fifth-edition rules. Next time: into the mists!


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